Michigan woman Rhonda Costigan is suing Delta Air Lines for $10 million because she believes the groping and open masturbation by a male passenger could have been prevented.
Rhonda Costigan was flying home to Detroit from South Carolina when the groping and masturbation occurred, according to the lawsuit filed against Delta Air Lines. Christopher Finkley, a Myrtle Beach native, was arrested on simple assault charges after pleading guilty to the misdemeanor sexual incident during the flight.
Costigan said Christopher Finkley slid his hand under her shorts after he sat down in a vacant seat next to her on the Delta flight. The Detroit woman said she felt "trapped" in her seat next to the window and felt "frozen in terror," according to a report by WWJ-TV.
In the Delta lawsuit, which was filed in Wayne County, Michigan, last week, the female passenger said the crew on the plane permitted Finkley to freely roam about the plane during the Delta Connection flight from Myrtle Beach to Detroit. ExpressJet Airlines flies as Delta Connection, the Daily Mail reports.
Rhonda Costigan also claimed in the lawsuit that Finkley had already exposed himself while walking around in first class earlier in the same flight. Delta Air Lines reportedly offered the Michigan woman a total of $2,500 in ticket vouchers after the groping and open masturbation incident.
Woman molested on 2016 Delta flight files $10 million lawsuit against the airline: https://t.co/9f6IUTbYUz pic.twitter.com/ncL1zZzL59
— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 13, 2017
The airline has so far declined the opportunity to speak about the $10 million lawsuit. A statement from Delta said the company was "dismayed" upon hearing how Rhonda Costigan described what she said happened on the flight in the lawsuit filing. ExpressJet Airlines has also declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Christopher Finkley is embarrassed by his actions and regrets the anguish he caused Rhonda Costigan, according to his attorney, Colleen Fitzharris. The defense attorney said the truck driver did a "terrible thing" while he was acting under both the influence of alcohol and stress.
Finkley, who was traveling on a first-class ticket, went to the back of the plane to use the restroom instead of utilizing the facilities in his own section. He sat down next to the Detroit woman not long after entering her section of the plane.
Delta Airlines let drunk 'roam freely' while he exposed himself and groped woman on flight: lawsuit https://t.co/We37juB3Wg pic.twitter.com/Xmo7JsrBbd
— Raw Story (@RawStory) June 13, 2017
Costigan, a waitress and mother, said Finkley put his hands on her legs and attempted to massage them.
"I looked down and his hands were rubbing my leg," Rhonda Costigan said. "It continued to escalate; he went inside my shorts."
According to court documents, Finkley looked at Costigan and said he "liked white women" and asked where her "man" was as he groped her body. Rhonda said she begged him to stop and said her 15-year-old daughter was sitting in the row of seats right behind her.
Eventually, Finkley stopped his groping and returned to first class and began to masturbate in his seat. Court documents also revealed Finkley said he likes to sit with his hands down his pants and referred to the habit as his "happy place."
Jerry Acker, Costigan's attorney, said flight attendants noticed Finkley approximately 40 minutes into the two-hour flight but did not restrain him and continued to allow him to wander about the airplane. One flight attendant called the Detroit airport to make sure a police officer could meet the plane and arrest Christopher Finkley.
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